LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- State regulators are clarifying the no-smoking rule at bars and restaurants with outdoor seating.
Owners can allow smoking on patios and decks only if food and drinks aren't being served at that time. The head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says there's been some confusion about the issue.
Clover Adams calls it a minor clarification. Speaking to reporters Monday, she says she just wants to clear things up. Her office oversees some of the no-smoking regulations.
Michigan's ban on smoking in restaurants and bars has been the law since 2010.
The Michigan Restaurant Association issued this statement Monday:
The Michigan Restaurant Association (MRA) appreciates the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) taking steps to clarify aspects of the Dr. Ron Davis Smoke-Free Air Law as it pertains to food establishments.
The MRA supports MDARD's appropriate recognition of a restaurant owner's ability to decide how best to utilize available patio or rooftop space. However, this interpretation exacerbates a "winners" and "losers" approach that does not allow Michigan's restaurants and bars to compete on an even playing field since not all have outdoor space to take advantage of this new interpretation.
When this issue was debated in the Michigan Legislature in 2009, the MRA steadfastly advocated for a comprehensive ban if the Legislature saw fit to enact one. This interpretation is a step away from that position.
Practically speaking it may be a moot point for most restaurants, as it is unlikely that many will choose to forego the revenue and customer experience tied to outdoor dining for the opportunity to provide additional smoking opportunities to their patrons.